Black Folks, Yes…We Still Have On Shackles. But White People Didn’t Put Them There


As a 36-year-old black man, whenever I hear someone reference slavery or use it as an analogy, it’s completely embarrassing. For one, because it’s a slap in the face to our ancestors. None of us were alive to have the foggiest clue as to what slavery was like. People take the silliest things and try to compare them to slavery as if it’s the same thing. It isn’t. I don’t care what kind of research a person does or how many movies you watch, guess what? You weren’t there. So you don’t know.

And if you’re one of those who will believe everything you read about blacks being slaves, yet question everything else (especially those parts about blacks being slave owners and whites being slaves also–what, you didn’t catch that?), then that just adds to the problem.

Recently, many black folks have used slavery as an analogy to complain about the Oscars. The Oscars. Seriously. Just say that out loud. The Oscars. So an event where awards are given to millionaires by an objective committee who votes on movies and the actors who work in them. Yes…that is being placed on the same level as slavery.

Speaking of slavery, I’ve just read some comments on a story about Chris Rock hosting the Oscars and a black man said that Rock “had a white man’s hand up his butt and was dancing for massa like coons and house niggas do.” I was thinking Rock, as a comedian for many years, was doing a job to earn a paycheck. But apparently I was wrong. According to this random guy, Rock was only existing to “dance for massa.”

Just the fact that someone can connect the Oscars to slavery shows what kind of mindset they have. And yes, I’m aware that analogies don’t have to be exactly the same or even all that similar. But it says something that people look at someone who has made millions of dollars in his lifetime and somehow equates, no matter on what level, to what happened in the slave days.

I’m sure our ancestors would be proud. They’d look at this and say, “Yep…the Oscars. That’s EXACTLY the kind of thing we went through! They nailed it perfectly!”

Anyway, this may be hypocritical, but even though I said I don’t care for analogies to slavery, I’m actually going to make one myself. As a writer, I have to write for my audience. So I’m going to do exactly what I said I don’t care for.

The picture I have with this shows a black man with shackles on his wrists. There are a lot of black people today who feel that we as a community still have the proverbial “shackles” on us. One thing I can agree with is that in many ways, yes, we do.

However, white people aren’t the ones who put them on us.

I’ve been married to my wife, who happens to be white, for more than 16 years. I don’t have to speak about all the things that have been said to and about me because of this over the years. To know that society still in many ways does not accept interracial relationships already lets you know. Sure, it’s more accepted today than it once was, but there are still those who have problems.

However, guess what? I’ve caught a lot more flak from black people than white.

Oh, of course…there are white people who feel I should “stay with my own kind.” I’ve heard that one, too. But I’ve heard probably ten times more black men and women say that very same thing to me as well.

Love is out of the question. I couldn’t possibly have married my wife because of love. God, no. How ridiculous that I be so ignorant to bring love into the equation. But here are some reasons I’ve received from the black community as to why I married my wife:

“You’re ashamed of your race.”

“You hate black people.”

“You hate yourself.”

“You have no problem remaining a slave.”

“You just want the whites’ approval.”

“You’re a coon.”

“You’re a sellout.”

“You want to have mixed kids because you think black children are ugly.”

And the list goes on. Boy, does it go on. Again, love couldn’t be it. I clearly married my wife, at age 20, because I had some hidden agenda or wanted to stick it to other black folks. Yep…I decided to spend the rest of my life with one woman and have two children with her for the SOLE purpose of sending a message to black people.

This is one of the reason I say that the “shackles” that exist on us are there, not because of white people, but because of US. The minds of some people can’t even fathom that love could be part of this in any way. They can’t get past the notion that our skin colors don’t match. There’s some rule within our community that if you do decide to get with someone who isn’t black, that clearly means everything in the world other than the fact that you love them.

Back in the old days, we were not allowed to mix with white people. Our civil rights leaders (ironically, the same ones these black folks like to try and quote when it’s convenient) fought hard for us to not have to experience that. They busted their asses the RIGHT way to end segregation.

An interracial relationship is a result of that. So why do black people still have a problem or feel that it is against some “rule” that we get together or exist in romantic relationships with white people? Isn’t that one of the things our civil rights leaders fought against as well? So why is there so much more pushback from the black community whenever they see this?

Let’s look at some numbers. As of 2010 (the last time a U.S. census was taken), white people made up 63.1% of the population. Black people, 12.2% (other races and ethnicities obviously make up the rest). So in taking JUST my example of interracial relationships, I’m not sure what the breakdown is by gender, but I would assume women still make up less than half that amount. So even if every black woman went into a relationship with a black man, there would still be quite a few black men without black women to “pair up with.” That is, of course, if we follow the “rules” where we should “stay within our race.” This doesn’t even take into other factors, such as sexuality as well. There’s another one society has “rules” for. Society says that we’re all “supposed” to be straight as well.

So just by the numbers alone; for every black man or woman to stay within our race isn’t possible. But back to Chris Rock. Now anyone who knows him knows that he has never shied away from making jokes about race, whether black or white. He doesn’t pull punches for either side. However, because black people feel that the Oscars are “racist,” for him to be up there and telling jokes and not boycotting as an ill-informed actress and her loyal, just-all-ill-informed-if-not-more followers did obviously showed, not that he’s doing what he does for a living and has done for a long time, but that he was simply putting on a show for white people because he’s “too weak” to boycott “like he was supposed to do.”

Supposed to do, says who? You mean the same ones who feel that I wasn’t “supposed” to marry my wife because she’s white?

There are really black folks out there (way too damn many of them) who honestly feel that if a black person has virtually anything to do with a white person in a positive manner, that makes him or her a “sellout.” I’ve written several blog posts about that one, so I won’t beat that up here. But you don’t have to be a math major to understand that with the gap between number of white people and black people living in the U.S., for a black person to expect any true level of success in pretty much anything and to NOT have white people involved in ANY way isn’t possible…not to mention just plain asinine.

Why would anyone want that anyway?

I am an aspiring screenwriter. That means I’m looking to write for movies and television one day and hopefully soon. There are people who really feel that I shouldn’t reach out to white people for this reason or that reason. Okay…so even if I wrote ONLY for black people, the 12.2% of the population that exist, do white people not watch movies and television? So why would I want to reach out to ONLY a minority? What kind of success would that lead to? So I’m supposed to ignore the massive white population just to appease to the black community, so they don’t believe I “hate myself” or “hate our race” and all that?

Don’t make me laugh.

Not to drag this out any more, but one more example. Black-on-black crime. (Oh GOD, right?) Now, we kill each other all day, every day, sadly. However, let a white person be part of it and we are ready to raise ALL KINDS of hell. Protests, riots, the whole nine…but very little when we do it ourselves. And save the “we protest for our black-on-black crime, but the media doesn’t cover it” excuse. Just about all of us have phones. And many of the ones saying it don’t put nearly the same amount of time (if any at all) into protesting black-on-black crime. Even though white-on-black crime doesn’t even sniff a FRACTION of black-on-black, many of us have simply learned to “accept” when we do it to each other. Because of course, the few times it happens and whites are involved, that is clearly what will hurt our community the most. Not when we do it to each other every single day.

Ever heard of “Worldstar Hip Hop”? A LOT of black-on-black fights and things of that nature on there that black folks love to share. Why in the hell does anyone see that as okay or productive? How is that advancing our race in any way? And these videos have millions and millions of views. Hell, several of my own friends and family share that nonsense that I can’t stand seeing.

Yet, how DARE a white person raise up on one of us. When Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and similar instances took place, black folks all over wouldn’t have hesitated to say something over something they never even saw for themselves. Yet, our community has this “no snitching” rule. Snitches get stitches, right? So the people who destroy our community all day, every day, and there is a “rule” that says we have to keep our mouths shut about it.

That’s what’s called being “shackled.” Again…we as a community definitely still are locked down by shackles. But white people aren’t the ones who put them on us…

…we put them on ourselves. It happens all day, every day. You’re worried about that one white person or two white people who are looking to keep you shackled as ten black people  do the same thing and because they’re black, we’re supposed to just let it go or to accept it. And it’s all because they don’t have the gumption, bravery, or intestinal fortitude to ignore what their own ill-informed community has to say about them as to the “rules” they’re supposed to follow.

People like me don’t pay attention or follow rules like that. Even though that is what actually brings us together as PEOPLE and not continue to keep us separated by race, I’m apparently wrong in a lot of ways. Not wrong to white people who feel I should “stay with my own kind,” but by black people, the descendants to the very victims of past segregation and the ones civil rights leader fought so hard for. Those are the ones I am ridiculed by.

It’s like rapper Kool Moe Dee said in the 1989 song Self Destruction:

“I never ever ran from the Ku Klux Klan and I shouldn’t have to run from a black man, ’cause that’s…self destruction. You’re headed for self destruction.”

Many members of our community can keep the self and community-imposed shackles on them. I refuse to do so myself. I actually paid attention to what our civil rights leaders fought so hard for.

Apparently, many others have not. If they did, they wouldn’t be PUTTING BACK ON the shackles that folks have fought so hard to take off.


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